Open until September 5, 2021, the exhibition « not yet : shared » presents a glimpse into the adventure of two famous lovers of Yoruba culture and customs, whose ways of life have a considerable influence on the cultural scene of Nigeria and Yoruba land: Ulli Beier and Susanne Wenger.

At that time, Ulli Beier and Susanne Wenger visited the psychiatric asylum in Lantoro, a place of support. After their first visit, they brought paper and paint to the patients, giving them the opportunity to show themselves and to invest their energy, an undertaking that lasted about a year and a half.

The result was a series of works that were created and kept in Ulli Beier‘s home and were shown a few times, while venturing to the four corners of the world.

The exhibition « not yet : shared » is a research project in its infancy that, from a certain point of view, questions the characterization of foreigners and their art, not only under the rule of the colonists, while struggling with the juxtaposition of altruistic efforts and unknown procurement measures. But it also explains the astonishing strength of taste in these 70-year-old masterpieces, which carry so much weight.  

Who are Ulli Beier and Susanne Wenger?

The couple Ulli Beier and Susanne Wenger became known in the African cultural atmosphere when they presented themselves as ambassadors of the Yoruba cultural heritage. They immediately became celebrities among the guardians of cultural values and protectors of Yoruba custom and culture.

DjqU7ylXgAEW8lO « not yet : shared » a fundamental look at the Yoruba cultural heritage ambassadors Ulli Beier and Susanne Wenger at the Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth
© Ulli Beier

Ulli Beier, a German, came to Nigeria in 1950 and invaded Yoruba territory when he got a university position to teach phonetics at the University College of Ibadan. After a stint in the phonetics department, he continued his studies in the field of extra-mural, where he became interested in Yoruba ways of thinking, arts and culture.

He traveled the length and breadth of the country, including Ede, Ilobu and Osogbo, where he was immersed in Yoruba thought, love and rituals. In Ede, Ulli Beier became an extremely dear companion of the former « Timi d’Ede », Oba Adetoyese Laoye, who introduced him to the Sango Cult. He had the opportunity to interact with priests and priestesses during various ceremonies.

He also contributed to Yoruba writing, especially when he helped create « Mbari-Mbayo Osogbo » with the late writer Duro Ladipo. A prolific field for a wide range of cultural and creative activities.

Ulli Beier was famous for his interpretation of Nigerian scholarly works into English. He presented much Yoruba culture, epistemology, religion, otherness, power and reasoning to an international audience.

His collections included photographs of cultural symbols, pioneers, customary engineering, artists, drums and Yoruba dresses. He provided an understanding of Yoruba history, culture, and human studies, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s.

Not really intending to keep all of his archives and in an effort to preserve his legacy in the enhancement of African culture and customs for posterity, Ulli Bier donated his entire collections to the Center for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) in Osogbo, prior to his death in 2011.

lossy-page1-1200px-Susanne_Wenger.tif-749x1024 « not yet : shared » a fundamental look at the Yoruba cultural heritage ambassadors Ulli Beier and Susanne Wenger at the Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth
© Susanne Wenger

Her companion Susanne Wenger, an Austrian woman, known as Adunni Olorisa, because of her energy for Yoruba culture and tradition, was the Yoruba priestess of the Osun Osogbo sacred forest.

Her relationship with Ajagemo, an Obatala minister in Ede, prepared her for an early experience with Yoruba epistemology, language, religion, and philosophy. Although her union with Ulli Bieir ended in divorce, she later married a Yoruba man, Lasisi Alarape, and continued to promote Yoruba culture and customs in Osogbo.

Because of her dedication to the Yoruba Orisa cult, she was recognized as a priestess. Susanne Wenger developed the Osun Osogbo shrine through her creative and wrought techniques to address the thoughts of divine and otherworldly beings. She has attempted to decipher the secrets and reality of traditional Yoruba religion through her art.   

Equally amazingly, she built the woods of the Osun Sacred Grove with masterpieces and realized another art movement known as New Sacred Art. She was part of the Osogbo School of Art which observes the sacred forest of the goddess Osun on the banks of the Osun River in Osogbo.

Thanks to Susanne Wenger, the Osun River Grove has been preserved for posterity and has become a place of fascination for the whole world, as if to make us understand that we can all make a charitable commitment to the restoration of culture and customs for the future.

A lire aussi :  « Congoville » : 15 contemporary artists examine the past and its colonial traces...

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